What is great writing?

Lana writes in her post on story sense (Dec. 9) that a writer always needs to ask ‘is this the best way to tell this story?’ Expanding on this idea, Lisa Schwarzbaum writes in her column, “A Second opinion” that a great movie distinguishes itself because the “story has integrity, originality and a sharp intelligence. The characters are distinctive and fully formed. The action [plot] unfolds organically, driven by those characters, rather than arbitrarily, driven by writerly cleverness.” These criteria hold true no matter what genre, whether the story is written, on film, or spoken by a story teller, and no matter the age of the intended audience, picture book through adult. Both Lana and Lisa present us with criteria against which we can measure our own work and move it to greatness. (See Lisa’s review of “Bridesmaids,” in the December 23rd issue of Entertainment Weekly.)

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